“In mathematical quarters, the regular division of the plane has been considered theoretically ... [Mathematicians] have opened the gate leading to an extensive domain, but they have not entered this domain themselves. By their very nature they are more interested in the way in which the gate is opened than in the garden lying behind it.” – M.C. Escher
Forget your theories and calculations. M.C. Escher had a vision and needed to project it in a very specific way. Simple as that.
In his infinite realm of tessellation, impossible constructions and regular divisions of the plane, Escher merged beauty and complexity with the precision of a mathematician. Unlike scholars of his time, though, he wasn’t concerned with formulas that explained his work. He found something that made him tick and just went with it.
Escher discovered his passion early and mastered it over a lifetime, producing 448 lithographs, woodcuts and wood engravings, as well as over 2000 drawings and sketches. By volume then, he is the masterpiece, not the pieces themselves.
While he will always be remembered for his impossible staircases, checkerboard patterns and drawing hands, the most inspiring part of his story is the maturation of himself through his workmanship. His life was the work of art.
We all have this in us. It’s the same for musicians and their compositions, dancers and their choreographies, and even mathematicians with their calculations. It’s an innate desire to express thoughts, feelings and ideas in ways that cannot be done simply, or even sincerely, with words alone.
As proven through Escher, the most authentic way to live is to find out what makes us tick—and just go with it.
Consider these lessons from Escher to begin sketching your life as a work of art:
Perception is reality.
“We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.” – Anaïs Nin
Everything is connected.
Checkers. Flies. Tiles are reptiles. Bees are butterflies. Fish are boats, and fish again. Farm animals are birds. Mail flies. Birds fly. They both fly to the city. Now let’s play chess.
Did I miss something?
We are control freaks.
“We adore chaos because we love to produce order.” – M.C. Escher
How often do we box the world in around us in ways that make the most sense to us, rather than observing life with an objective point-of-view?
See: Thinking Outside the Box
Let true beauty be.
Escher rarely used his wife, Jetta, as a subject. Though he adored her, he recognized that some beauty can’t be duplicated, nor should it be tampered with. With the exception of Bond of Union (1956), Escher’s pieces featuring Jetta were printed without his signature twists on reality.
The Salvador Dali museum in St. Petersburg, FL., once hosted a sketch of his nude wife which I haven't been able to identify online. The portrait was drawn with her turned away from the artist and her features are subtle, not exaggerated, as you might find in modern photography for models. From that image, you get the sense that he loved her exactly the way she was and wouldn’t dare alter her appearance.
It’s all about perspective.
Eyesight vs. mind-sight: Do you judge according to appearances or by interpretation of what you see?
Like many artists, Escher’s early pieces reveal moments of his artistic self-discovery. Coast of Amalfi (1931), for example, is a snapshot of a landscape that became a focal point for many later pieces. Peering under the shade of a tree, into the distance, you get a glimpse of Escher’s curiosity for perspective and vanishing horizons.
Remember your creator.
Every person is hardwired to create. We’ve been endowed this way because we are designed in God’s image, and He created us. Therefore, we create. We construct. We produce. We make things happen.
So, what's your vision and what are you doing with it?
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